Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Administrative Professionals

Apparently today is International Administrative Professionals’ Day.

It used to be called Secretary’s Day but it’s been re-branded. It started in the 50’s and I think the idea was a kind of be nice to your secretary day. Fair enough I suppose, secretaries were a pretty hard done by group of workers.

But nowadays they have gone the same way as the hand-loom weavers. It’s difficult to conceive of a time when junior and middle managers were not capable of typing their own letters or answering their own phones.

Actually I’m pretty sure these skills were easy enough to acquire - but having someone else do these things for you was a status symbol. Laptop, email voicemail and open plan offices have thankfully made much of this corporate petty bollocks obsolete.

In fact I don’t know anybody who has a secretary. Of course there are some executives who live in the management stratosphere who have PA’s. (People like Sur-alun-sugar the nation’s favourite fat cat bastard). I guess PA’s can fill some kind of practical function in being gatekeepers for their bosses – managing access and running the appointment diary - they get to know all the corporate skeletons in the cupboards. But they’re not really secretaries at all, they're a kind of middle manager - and possibly a backdoor way by which women have been able to by-pass the corporate glass ceiling.

So who is an ‘Administrative Professional’ these days ? The only people who would use that title are probably jobs-worth petty bureaucrats who think that they aren’t working class because they get to wear a polyester tie, and have a BTEC in business studies.

Although actually Generation X-ers in clerical McJobs are the real equivalent of the down-trodden secretaries of the past. So rather than 'Sending a bunches of flowers to your secretary-day' it might be more appropriate to have 'Mourn the loss of proper jobs in manufacturing-day'.

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